My friend, Patrice Dickey, author of Back To The Garden, died this month. As I sat on the couch tonight, I lovingly thumbed through the book, stopping on different pages that beg to be reread. In one, she tells how she received a message from a late friend. It took the form of a sign on a beat up old VW that said, “Write with joy.”
That is how Patrice and I met, actually. My book, Life With A Hole In It, had just come out. I was introducing it to a women’s spirituality group I attended (Mary and Martha’s Place). After the meeting, she came up to me and said, “Hi, I’m from Memphis, too, and I have read all of your spiritual teacher’s books. She was speaking of Vernon Howard. “And, she added, “I am a writer, too! Maybe we can exchange books.” And that we did.
Soon after that, she called to say that she wanted to buy four of my books to give as Christmas presents. I was so happy. When she popped in for a visit to pick them up, she gifted me with a beautiful hummingbird wind chime. It hangs on the mantel on the fireplace in my bedroom.
Now Patrice herself is gone, having succumbed to metastatic breast cancer. According to a dear friend, she was ready for the next stage of the journey. She had attended The Monroe Institute and was familiar with how to leave the body. She died in her sleep several months after learning that the cancer had spread.
How did I learn about it? I got up in the morning and found myself writing a poem about hummingbirds. I carefully chose the image I wanted to use with it. I immediately posted it on Facebook and on my website. Then I had breakfast and began to read the paper. When I got to the obituary section, I saw Patrice’s face smiling up at me from its pages. “Oh, no,” I thought, “this can’t be true.” But it was. I called a good friend of hers, who told me that Patrice was ready to go. “I saw her in hospice and she was in no pain. She died in her sleep. She died conscious.”
And now as I type these words, I realize how inadequate they are. The message she received, “Write with joy,” is one to which I can relate. There is no sorrow now for Patrice, for she has “gone to glory,” as she would say. I have always seen writing, as did she, as a way to cultivate the garden of the soul. Now her spirit will be in her garden, and those who visit it will find her there. Below is the poem, which I now dedicate to her.
My heart is broken
hummingbird sips nectar
directly from the lip.
My soul is shattered
backlit with a starry field.
My God is measured
in sips of nectar
as I yield.